I was stunned. I had known Phoebe since our girls were little. She had been to our home many times and always read to the girls when it was their bedtime.
Later, Phoebe had worked tirelessly in a small town, doing menial jobs so that she could share the gospel with those around her. She had been a great encouragement to the pastor and his wife, often the only faithful attendee in the fledgling congregation.
When we heard Phoebe was discouraged, we visited and prayed with her. She was indeed a long way from home and missed her family sorely. Yet, what she didn’t tell us was that she was already struggling with the validity of Truth.
I’ll bet that you have a Phoebe in your life, huh?
She was one of those mystery people, who “suddenly” cashed it all in to go their own way.
But, what is our response?
Let’s compare the wording of both James and Peter as we sort this together:
“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
Notice the overlap?
Anyone that strays from Truth must be dealt with in love.
Unfortunately, I tend to waffle between a hardline, judgmental approach
or a “I’m not going to say anything” approach.
Neither is true love.
Pause for a moment to bring up your “Phoebe” before God in prayer.
Now, let’s allow the Father to direct our thoughts on their behalf:
Despite their sin, have we been patient with them? (“Love is patient”)
When we speak about them to others, have our words been kind? (“Love is kind)
When their absence at church is mentioned, do we have an arrogant, “holier than thou” attitude? (“Love is not arrogant”)
Has their action embarrassed us or made us angry? (“Love is not provoked and doesn’t take into account a wrong suffered”)
Have we given up on their return and grew tired of praying for them? (“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”)
Have we failed to pray for them recently? (“Love never fails”)
Will our love be one to cover a multitude of sins?
May it be so my dear friend. May it be so for both of us.
Hartlee Kirk‘s guest post reminds me not only of my early days of marriage, but of deep truths that ring true today as well. No matter where we are in the process of our marriage (or even other relationships), she makes us want to roll up our sleeves and get to work!
As he peeled the rusty-orange shag carpet away, the original hardwood floors beneath breathed their first breath of fresh air after years of suffocation. My eyes danced as they stared at the new flooring in our home renovation, dreaming of potential. When spots of discontinuity and cracks were uncovered, those dreams turned to dread of the work to be done.
My husband and I now have a decision to make in our current remodel project. We can put in extra labor, time, and money to restore the flooring to it’s original beauty. Or make the alternative choice to cover up history for the sake of convenience. The hopeful expectations in my glimmering eyes refocused as reality came into view.
When the disappointment of imperfection surfaces, most people turn to the easy solution. The same principle can be seen in relationships.
My marriage can serve as an example. In the early stages of our dating relationship, the stars in our eyes masked the shortcomings we had as individuals. We knew from Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” but had only seen glimpses of our fallen state in our eighteen months of dating and engagement. After committing “til death do us part” we jumped into the rhythms of life together under the circumstances of moving to Louisiana, leaving friends and family, Jordan starting a new job, me transferring universities, buying a house, and adding a puppy to the mix since the transition wasn’t stressful enough. Our life together started on unfamiliar ground, but leaning into the Rock of our salvation stabilized us when our relationship felt shaky; God has to be our foundation or else we crumble.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
Expecting someone to be ‘perfect’ sets them up for failure; Jesus is the only Person Who was capable of perfection on Earth because He is God. Holding someone else to that standard, or thinking they are without flaw becomes idolatry. There is a constant internal struggle against self-centeredness in every ‘good’ relationship. Serving, loving, and submitting goes against the human nature of desiring control, power, authority, freedom, respect, and glory.
Relationships require work! The covenant before man and God at the marriage altar has to be taken seriously, because marriage requires serious work. Flowers shrivel and memories fade, but the orange carpet will be pulled back exposing flaws to the light that you never knew existed. This is where “for better, or for worse” plays a role.
Being a bearer of ‘worse’ is humbling, and being a witness of ‘worse’ is disappointing and invokes fear. Restoration requires lowering your position, getting down into the splinters, and working in confidence of the potential at hand. One morning, the sunbeams will spread across the living room, warming the hard-worked surface. The upkeep will be continual as scuffs appear and cracks resurface, but the ongoing process of restoration is beautiful.